A Richmond filmmaker is offering a glimpse into Chinese Canadian culture at one of the largest international film festivals in the world.
100 Days, written and directed by Derek Kwan, is one of seven Canadian films that will be presented at the Not Short on Talent showcase at the Cannes Market, which runs parallel to the Cannes Film Festival.
Named after the Asian custom to celebrate a baby reaching its 100th-day milestone, 100 Days follows a dizzying family celebration at a Chinese restaurant.
From gastronomical close-ups of a Chinese banquet-style dinner to mother-daughter shouting matches, it’s a quintessential modern family drama that transcends cultural boundaries.
“It’s not necessarily like an immigration story or anything like that,” said Kwan, who was born and raised in Vancouver.
“I really wanted to just highlight something where it’s a mixture of generations, and there’s still intergenerational trauma, there’s still undertones of different things. But I just… hope that this can be universal.”
It was also important for Kwan to include experiences unique to his Chinese Canadian background, which is why he chose a cast made up mostly of Asian Canadians and designed dialogue where actors would code-switch between Cantonese and English dialogue.
Kwan likes to bring lesser-known cultural details to the screen, for example, he highlights banquet-style dining that is more popular in Lower Mainland Chinese food culture than the usual mainstream image of Chinese takeaway.
The decadent shots of dishes being placed on a Lazy Susan, especially closeups of the chicken - complete with the chicken head - and a pair of chopsticks going in for the eye on the steamed fish are a nod to Kwan’s experiences growing up.
“Things that might be normal to us, or that we’ve experienced before… To be able to bring that to life in a film and for people to consume, that’s definitely part of the reason why I make films.”
Kwan has previously attended the event as a producer for short films MAUNDY and Idols Never Die.
To learn more about 100 Days and find out about future screenings, check out the short film’s official website and Kwan’s Instagram account (@mundanederek).